As told by one of the most well-known Russian classics:
Vot i leto nastupaet, pomidory rastsvetayut.
The above may be loosely translated as “there’s nothing better for an IT-company, than to spend some time in the countryside”. These words led us to leave the city and spend some days off the beaten track.
After riding pirate ships and passing Gurtam’s “Identification” we experienced maximum inspiration to conquer all of the four elements. We traced the river on kayaks, enjoyed being on the firm ground after a 20-km race, went sky-high for another volleyball and chased fire with campfire songs. Paying homage to Luc Besson, we used eternal enthusiasm of our team as The Fifth Element.
Our journey began at the very dawn, precisely at 10 AM. Ready for every hardship, we were taken to the bank of the rapid river Isloch. Before setting every kayak afloat, we were planning to shatter a bootle of champagne on stern. But there are not really many kayaks capable to survive a hit with a bottle of “Soviet” champagne, so we decided to put the drink to good use.
We pretended the river to be calm and still until we had taken our seats in kayaks and experienced a swift water for the first time. Infamous east-european storm left behind itself numerous fallen trees, shattered stems and underwater snags barring the way.
All this didn’t make us scared, but rather interested. Several teams logged record speeds and got a long start over other competitors and event administration, who where unable to keep up with Gurtam top performers. The undisputable leader even sailed 3 km more after missing the finish line.
We saw our friends overkeeling, losing control of their kayak and ending caught in the reeds; we watched slippers and paddles sailing away with no hope to return them back; we were trying to help the others and watched our own kayak going down; we merged several kayaks in one float and entered the turns on a high speed – all in all we were doing everything contrary to the rules and a common sense.
Although we didn’t hook a fish, but in the end we dined on fish soup. Weary but pleased, we were sitting on the ground sharing impressions and anticipated further events.
In an hour we were free to explore the vast areas of a lone farmstead with a volleyball court, mini-football field, portable sauna and a lake. We seemed to be exhausted, but a couple of refreshment and heating drinks changed the situation for the better and the volleyball court was ever-reserved. Badminton, frisbee, boomerang and very talented beer-pong players were just having fun abandoning the spirit of competition. The spectators were watching Gurtam Olympic Games from a shisha lounge or at table.
The meat was so delicious that even the hardcore vegans couldn’t help but take a bite and the sauna was as hot as Gurtam corporate calendar of 2014. During the event we took part in a creative photo quest and the results are now available in social networks by #стихияgurtam tag.
“If you love something, let it go” we were told, then each got handed a brightly glowing, Gurtam-branded air baloon. Fast forward a few minutes, and there’s a hundred of baloons floating up in the sky as a symbol of devotion to our team and company. Fan fact, for a long time the baloons kept all floating in a bunch, not scattering across the night sky. Who knows, maybe in baloon-speak “Gurtam” also means “together”… or maybe it was just static electricity.
The day slowly changed into night to the sounds of songs sung around the campfire. The steady strum of the guitar, the lyrics impossible not to sing-along to – and the newly-discovered talents of our colleagues, which were a pleasant surprise. Sex, drugs and rock’n’roll’s gotta move over when you’re watching the flames while singing along to the legendary songs of Oasis, Metallica or The Beatles.
”The early bird gets the worm.” Or (in our case) hot mac and cheese, followed by eggs and veggies, folowed by a quet relaxing morning filled with insightful lazing in the sun, and later – horse riding under the care of professional instructors from the local stables.
The most energetic of us weren’t “taking the easy way out” (a.k.a. a comfortable bus ride back to the city), and decided to go back on there own. And while there was a ready-to-ride herd of horses at their disposal, they opted to ride those last 70 kilometers on bike. We won’t be surprised if it turns out that upon arrival they went right on to lifting weights and doing sit-ups for good measure.
And even though a few smartphones were lost to the treacherous waters, in the end, they hadn’t been able to break our spirit. For days now, we stand proudly as the Conquerors of The Four Elements! Now, there’s only the Space left without Gurtam flag visiting it already; and we are sure we will conquer it one day!